Be stern on herbal medicine practitioners!

Before the advent of orthodox medical practice and related medicines, healthcare involved what is now termed as traditional or herbal medicine.

Even at a point in history when orthodox medical practice had taken root in the country, some people, particularly rural dwellers and others seen as traditionalists or conservatives, continued to prefer herbal medicine.

Those were the days when the efficacy of herbal medicine was not compromised because the practitioners did not commercialise it as they treated their patients for them to show their gratitude with gifts in cash and in kind.

As time went by, modern medical practice was used to condemn herbal medicine.

Fortunately, herbal medicine has been accepted, with some medical universities now offering courses in herbal medicine.

The current situation is that the public health system in the country has even incorporated it as an alternative medical practice.

That means the system has been and continues to be streamlined for the benefit of society.

As part of the streamlining, Ghana, for instance, has enacted a law to regulate the sector, which is Traditional Medical Practice Act, 2000 (Act 575), and also established the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Directorate, as well as the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Council (TMPC) at the Ministry of Health.

Today, herbal medicine is a thriving sector in the country because of its current commercialised status.

However, unfortunately, many charlatans have infiltrated the sector and even some of the genuine practitioners have refused to do the needful.

One of our stories today says the TMPC is poised to clamp down on unlicensed and unregistered herbal medicine practitioners.

The TMPC has thus asked practitioners yet to register with the Council or renew their annual licence to do so or risk the consequences.

It is good to hear that the primary aim of the Council now is to properly regulate the industry and weed out the quacks in the system who sit on the radio, television and in the communities selling products and sharing unproven knowledge and claims.

We encourage the taskforce set up by the Council to uphold its mandate of ensuring that all persons purporting to be practising herbal medicine conform to the law and their products do not pose a risk to consumers.

Arguably, a larger section of Ghanaians patronise herbal medicine and the practitioners are taking advantage of them.

Some of the practitioners are selling products whose efficacy is in question, coupled with the deception relating to one product having multiple cures.

Sometime ago it was on the media that herbal medicine practitioners should stop doing unathorised adverts on radio and television but they persist in it.

With community social activity centres opened all over the place, the practitioners use such centres selling all manner of products without let or hindrance.

There are others peddling their products on commercial vehicles.

Besides, there are those who have established healing centres and outlets through which they sell their products.

The bad news is that some of these practitioners claim cures they are not capable of offering yet they exact exorbitant charges from their helpless patients and turn round to blame the patients

or their care-givers for not doing one thing or another, which marred the cure.

Everyone would, thus, be pleased if the TMPC would check all the deception and malpractices in the sector because it has a lot of promise regarding both health and economic benefits for the country.

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